In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, investing in your customer experience has become a critical factor that determines the success of all B2B companies. It’s no longer enough to just pay attention to financial metrics such as revenue, margin, and profits.
Even in traditional industries such as manufacturing, distribution, and wholesaling, it is becoming more essential for companies to pay attention to the overall B2B customer experience.
Digital transformation is not enough. Your user experience is a key differentiator for decision-makers. Everything from the onboarding journey and digital channel engagement will contribute to their purchase decision and the NPS they ultimately give you. NPS stands for net promoter score and it’s a metric used to evaluate the “Customer Success” department. It measures how loyal and satisfied a customer is through the question: “ how likely are you to recommend our product or service to others on a scale of 0-10?”
Customer success is now a competitive advantage for B2B companies as it helps creates customer loyalty. Thankfully, with the advent of new technologies, B2B businesses can now leverage digital tools to improve their B2B customer journey. In this article, we will discuss why the B2B customer experience matters, how technology can help B2B businesses build better online commerce experiences, and examples of industry-leading tools they can use.
Why the B2B customer experience matters
In the B2B world, business-to-business customers are often more demanding than B2C customers. They expect personalized, seamless experiences throughout their engagement with a business. An excellent customer experience can lead to increased customer loyalty and higher retention rates, as well as positive word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals to others in the industry. In contrast, a poor customer experience can lead to lost sales, negative peer reviews, and damaged reputations.
Moreover, as more B2B buyers move online, the importance of the customer experience has only increased. Today's B2B buyers expect the same level of convenience and simplicity as B2C buyers when it comes to purchasing products online. The jury is out and the verdict is not changing. Manufacturers need to provide an easy-to-use, seamless online B2B ecommerce experience that caters to the needs of their B2B customers.
For instance, take ConEquip, one of the largest equipment parts suppliers in the country. Even though they do not take online orders or have ecommerce, they are able to grow their revenues by 30% year over year, partly by providing an exceptional customer experience.
How technology helps companies build better online commerce experiences
Technology has revolutionized the way businesses operate, and manufacturing and distribution companies can leverage trends and technology to improve their B2B customer experience. Here are some ways that technology can help them build better online B2B customer journeys.
- Personalization: Manufacturers can provide personalized experiences that cater to the unique needs of each B2B customer, especially with technologies like artificial intelligence. For example, by analyzing a customer's data and purchase history, manufacturers can offer personalized recommendations, promotions, and discounts. Before technology, this would have been more difficult as the work involved in analyzing the customer data would have been slow, tedious, and labor-intensive. There are plenty of B2B website personalization tools that exist, and no shortage of AI tools. Karie Daudt, Director of Commerce Strategy at digital consultancy Perficientt, also says that artificial intelligence “...can also be an accelerator to drive more intelligent personalization.”
- Seamless ordering: By implementing a B2B ecommerce platform, manufacturers and distributors can offer an easy-to-use, intuitive ordering system that streamlines the purchasing process. With B2B commerce and B2B checkout soaring in popularity, customers can quickly browse products, add items to their cart, and checkout in just a few clicks. For instance, DocShop Pro is a leading industry supplier of medical suppliers. In fact, they are known at the Amazon of medical supplies! They have a robust B2B marketplace that focuses on prioritizing the ease of ordering for customers. They even integrate with Resolve, the B2B spinout of Affirm, in order to provide net terms directly at checkout.
- Customer service: Manufacturers and distributors can use technology to provide outstanding customer service and touchpoints through the use of B2B chatbots, virtual assistants, and self-service portals on their website. These tools help customers find the information they need quickly and efficiently, reducing the time and effort required to resolve issues. Time is money and if your customers are not getting the information they need - they will churn.
- Product information: Manufacturers and distributors can use technology to provide detailed product information, such as specifications, images, and even videos, making it easier for customers to evaluate products and make informed decisions online. In the past, buyers would need to travel to your warehouse or meet you at a trade show in order to view your products. Not anymore.
- Order tracking: By implementing a robust order tracking system, manufacturers and distributors can keep customers informed about the status of their orders, providing real-time updates on shipping and delivery times.
How manufacturers and distributors can build a strong customer journey through technology
Here are some examples of platforms and technologies that B2B businesses can use to improve their B2B customer experience:
- B2B ecommerce platforms: Ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce allow businesses to create customized online stores that provide a seamless purchasing experience for their B2B customers.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software: CRM software such as Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zoho allow businesses to manage their customer data, analyze customer behavior, and personalize their interactions. There are even niche CRM systems for manufacturers.
- Live chat and chatbots: Live chat and chatbots, such as Intercom, Drift, Ada, and even HubSpot’s own chatbot provide quick and efficient customer service, reducing the time and effort required to resolve issues.
- Self-service portals: Self-service portals, such as Zendesk, Freshdesk, and Help Scout, allow customers to find the information they need quickly and efficiently, reducing the workload on customer service teams.
- Digital net terms: New tools such as Resolve are now transforming the tedious and labor-intensive process of managing net terms. Resolve is a net terms software solution that helps manufacturers and distributors manage every single aspect of offering net 30 (or net 60!) Resolve’s online technology solution helps B2B businesses grow their revenue and become more efficient. By offering business credit checking, credit decisioning, invoicing, B2B payment processing, and invoice reconciliation to ERP systems such as QuickBooks Online and NetSuite - Resolve is known for acting like your accounts receivables team on tap!
The bottom line: Why the B2B customer experience is important for revenue growth
In conclusion, businesses must be more customer-centric than ever. Paying close attention to the B2B customer experience that they offer will help them remain competitive in today's business environment.
By leveraging technology, manufacturers and distributors can build better online ecommerce experiences that cater to the unique needs of their B2B customers. From personalized buying experiences, simple purchasing systems to outstanding customer service and offering a digital checkout to access B2B payment terms, there are many ways that technology can help manufacturers improve their customer satisfaction and B2B experience.
Companies that invest in understanding customer insights, listening to customer feedback, and providing a great customer experience will repeat the benefits in greater profitability. These companies are more likely to see increased customer loyalty and retention rates, positive social media recommendations, and improved overall business performance.
The bottom line? Embrace technology. Taking steps to automate processes and satisfy your customer needs will create a competitive advantage that no competitor can take away. Interested in working with a sales and cash flow platform that is known for helping you improve your customer experience? Learn more about Resolve’s platform to help you manage net terms online and take advantage of the free trial.